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Calls for more money to tackle ‘health inequalities’ after Newham identified as having the highest Covid-19 death rate

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 May 2020

Newham has called for more money to help tackle avoidable health differences after the borough was named the area in England and Wales with the most Covid-19 related deaths. Picture: Ken Mears

Newham has called for more money to help tackle avoidable health differences after the borough was named the area in England and Wales with the most Covid-19 related deaths. Picture: Ken Mears

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Calls have been made to tackle avoidable differences in health after Newham was identified as having the highest Covid-19 death rate.

A demand for more money from mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has been echoed by campaigners from Newham Save Our NHS whose chairman accused the government of negligence.

It follows a report by the Office for National Statistics which showed the borough has an age standardised mortality rate of 144.3 deaths per 100,000 people – the highest in England and Wales.

Ms Fiaz said: “We need to make sure health funding is prioritised by the government for deprived areas, including increased funding to boost our public health work, which has been decimated over the years.

“If it wasn’t already clear, councils like Newham urgently need more funding from the government now and in the future as we progress with Covid-19 recovery.”

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Pic: Marianne Chua PhotographyMayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Pic: Marianne Chua Photography

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And she demanded more say, money and power to decide how lockdown restrictions are eased in Newham.

Alan Cooper, chairman of Newham Save Our NHS, claimed: “For how long are people going to be left to die because of this government’s negligence, ill-preparedness, and worship of market forces?”

The government announced on May 4 that Public Health England will examine how factors including deprivation, ethnicity, age and gender can affect people’s susceptibility to Covid-19.

Health minister Matt Hancock. Picture: Jonathan BradyHealth minister Matt Hancock. Picture: Jonathan Brady

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s an extremely important and hugely complex task, but we owe it to the nation to find out how this virus may affect different groups in different ways, to protect lives and limit the spread of the disease.”

The campaigners demanded protective kit for all frontline workers and an end to migrants being charged for NHS healthcare. They described charges as “especially discriminatory” in communities with multiple ethnicities such as Newham, claiming the “vulnerable” fear being charged so avoid seeking care.

A Home Office spokesman said Covid-19 has been added to a list of communicable diseases, meaning anyone with symptoms, regardless of immigration status, gets treated free. Testing for Covid-19 is free too even if the result is negative.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said officials are working “around the clock” to ensure PPE is reaching where it is needed most, and have delivered more than 1.1 billion items to date.


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